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Sandy Martin seeks help for Ipswich flat owners after cladding blow

PUBLISHED: 19:00 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 22:18 11 May 2019

Sandy Martin has written to the government about St Francis Tower. Picture: NK Photography.co.uk

Sandy Martin has written to the government about St Francis Tower. Picture: NK Photography.co.uk

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Leaseholders of flats in St Francis Tower in Ipswich have been told they will still have to pay for replacing the cladding that has been taken off the building in the wake of the Grenfell disaster of two years ago.

St Francis Tower, Ipswich  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSt Francis Tower, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The government announced earlier this week that it would fund the replacement of cladding on privately-owned blocks of flats - but now the owners of flats in the Ipswich block have been told they have the wrong type of cladding to qualify for Government support.

However Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has written to Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire to demand that the government extends the compensation to the kind of cladding used here which is even more flammable than that covered.

Flat owners had already been told by management company, Block Management, that they would have to pay nearly £22,000 per flat to replace the cladding.

After the government announcement, leaseholders had hoped that they would no longer have to pay for this work - but that hope was shattered by an email from the management company.

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That pointed out that the government scheme only applied to Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding - and that on St Francis Tower was High Pressure Laminate (HPL) material.

A spokesman for the company said many people still hoped the government would extend its scheme to include the replacement of all cladding - but that was not currently the case.

One leaseholder spoke of his frustration on hearing that the government support would not extend to St Francis Tower.

He said: "This did sound like good news at the start, but we got the email soon afterwards and it is rather a blow because we'll still have the cost of doing the work hanging over us.

"I've only got one flat there, but I know someone who has eight and that gives him a real problem."

Mr Martin said: "The statement from Mr Brokenshire was typically vague about whether flats with other cladding would be covered, so I have written to him asking for clarification and pointing out that the cladding at St Francis Tower is potentially even more dangerous that the aluminium cladding that is covered by this.

"We now wait to hear his response to this."

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